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The Three Keys That Leave Your Customers Satisfied with Help Desk Problem Resolution

Level 9

In 1999 and 2000 I worked as Tier 3 UNIX Support for a colocation company. One of our largest customers had recently moved in so much new equipment, there wasn’t enough power in one rack. In what was to be a temporary solution, a power cord was left running across the aisle about two feet off the floor.

One day as I was going into the data center with one of our Tier 2 folks, the inevitable happened – his foot caught the cord as he stepped over it, pulling it free and crashing the customer’s server. He scrambled to plug it back in as quickly as possible, but I stopped him and instead had us find a longer cord which we then ran underneath the raised floor.

The outage triggered an automatic trouble ticket, which was assigned to me. My manager advised me to list the root cause as “momentary loss of power”. This in turn triggered a series of daily 8:30AM “post mortem” meetings as the customer – quite reasonably – wanted to know why it had taken so long to get the server back on line. I was instructed to not say anything that could make it appear that the outage was our fault in any way.

After six weeks, I couldn't take it anymore and, with my manager waving me off, I said, “I tripped over your power cord.” I then proceeded to tell the customer what had happened, making it sound like I had been alone in the data center.

The customer’s first response was, “Oh. You should have just said so in the first place.”

With the explanation that we had set things up so no one could trip over the cord again, the customer was satisfied with the resolution.

This incident led me to determine the three things any customer wants to know when there’s an incident:

  1. What happened.
  2. What you did to fix it.
  3. What you’re doing to make sure it doesn't happen again.

If you can provide (and follow through on) these three things, you’ll have satisfied customers nearly every time.

What are the key things you do to ensure your customers are happy with the resolution of their problems?

Level 13

There's another key point that your article implies but doesn't come right out and say: Customers want and deserve honesty. Human error and unforeseen circumstances can and will happen. If we can demonstrate to the customer that the situation was analyzed and steps were taken to minimize the risk of a repeat occurrence, they will usually be more satisfied than they would be with a vague-but-plausible excuse.

Level 15

I have lived my professional career on these principles

1)  Be on-time or communicate to let them know when you will arrive

2)  Don't lie to them, if you don't know the answer tell them so, but follow it with but I will research and get back as soon as I can

3)  Solve their problem

Taught to me by a very prominent attorney whom I have a lot of respect for and was a great friend over the years.


I second clubjuggle‌ 's and jkump 's comments as well as the OP.  I had worked for an outsourcer in a previous life and we had a customer that if you were not honest and the contact found out or detected BS, she would rip you a new one...she would be justifiably right and would follow it up with an adjustment to the monthly contracted bill.  

Level 17

some times too much explanation is a bad thing...  some times it is a good thing...

Level 17

I think it takes a better memory to remember the amount and accuracy of the lies told rather than retaining the information needed to get er done! If you can't just raise your hand the first time and say, 'It was me', you will be believed when it is not you.

davemhenry‌ if I was your customer, finding that out would have made me look for a new contract - I would have encouraged you to apply internally (or for whatever company I could see on the horizon).

Rules are simple, No BS, KISS and 'Make Up' (Communicate and Work well with each other - leave the emoteicon emotions to your FB friends ... this is business after all)

Level 13

True. I don't think excessive detail is usually necessary, but owning up is generally more beneficial than harmful.

Level 17

I have had details back fire... and not even when it was excessive. I think it depends on your customer's personality type X (Multiplied) by their Curiosity.

    Sometimes the wrong detail, or even right detail with the wrong word starts them down the rabbit hole.

Level 15

Unless you are cursed with eidetic memory! 

Level 17

I'd rather just remember the journey than rehash every bit of it to someone that will need an explanation about why the Queen's Heart's are being painted - right after I tell them about the rant over White Roses.

- If they can follow me that far, usually they are on the same side of the table.

Level 15

I think that telling the truth is the easiest path.  It has served me well in my long IT career.  This has been a good thread.

Level 13

I'm cursed with idiotic memory. It sounds similar, but it's actually very different!

I find that sticking with the truth means less stuff I have to remember later.

Level 17

Always, referring back to my own rules - this is covered in the first.  No BS.

Hits the nail right on the head, I have experienced managers and CTO's do the same thing of "make sure you make it seem like its not our fault." When 9 times out of 10 your customer just wants the 3 things you listed and honesty.

Level 17

To me the No BS means you cut out the Lies, Misdirections, Smoke and Mirrors, the Blame Game, Telephone, Truth or Dare or any Silly Juvenile game that gets brought up at the Round Table.

Then the other two that follow help you stay on task, and to build trust in you, your work and/or team.

christopher.t.jones123‌ - transparency is a hard thing to come by*

* Real Transparency - not this crud we see these days where it's an explanation of why your actions, where normally the wrong action; is justified only because of one's perceived issues being faced.

Level 7

I find it interesting that as adults we still need to be reminded that "Honesty is the Best Policy". Disseminating is transparent and a good way to lose the valued trust that it takes to keep a good customer.  If they can't believe what you say they are not going to "Buy" anything.  

Level 15

Sometimes the classics never go out of style.  If you do not learn from your history you are doomed to repeat it.